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September 10, 2009

Obama, The Morning After

During the liveblog last night I said that the speech will cost Obama 5% of his support. I was probably caught up in the moment. In the long run I think it will hurt him by at least that much but in the short run, well I probably owe Gabe some drinks (be sure to read his take down of the speech below if you haven't already).

Why do I think it will hurt him?

Heís trying to please a lot of different people with contradictory messages. I think that will burn him in the medium to long run.

Obama and the left have a really big problemÖdespite their dire rhetoric most people are happy with the health care and insurance they have. A lot of what they are selling is fear mongering and lies.

Obama once wrote of himself "I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views." Even at this late date he is still unwilling to say ďthis is what I want in a billĒ. Heís just whipping up emotion within the established camps but not moving the needle in either direction.

That will get you far in a campaign (all the way to the White House in fact), however actually being President means choosing. At some point Obama will have to and heís going to anger a lot of people in the process.

One of the biggest applause lines last night was this.

Now, I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business. They provide a legitimate service, and employ a lot of our friends and neighbors. I just want to hold them accountable. The insurance reforms that Iíve already mentioned would do just that. But an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange.

The left is likely to hear that as a call to stick it out with the government option. Yes, he tempered it later but after days of hearing the government option was dead, the left is feeling reenergized on their core issue.

Tuesday Steve Hildebrand was down on Obama but after the speech he was back to singing the Hope and Change Chorus.

"I think tonight was a game changer for the health reform debate," Hildebrand told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. "He explained in very clear terms what he stands for, what he believes in..."

But Hildebrand's reaction to Obama's address Wednesday night perhaps suggests the president has won over some progressives, who have increasingly signaled their dissatisfaction with the administration.

So instead of preparing the left for compromise (either abandoning the government option or settling for a trigger), heís got them riled up again.
Problem is, he canít deliver a government option.

What did Obamaís speech get him on the other side? Nothing. Well, less than nothing really.

Olympia Snowe is bothered that the government option is still on the table.

Even Lindsay Graham hit Obama for the tone of the speech.

I was incredibly disappointed in the tone of his speech. At times I found his tone to be overly combative and believe he behaved in a manner beneath the dignity of the office. I fear his speech tonight has made it more difficult -- not less -- to find common ground.

He appeared to be angry at his critics and disappointed the American people were not buying the proposals he has been selling. The presidentís confrontational demeanor increased the emotional and political divide. I hope the President will learn that true bipartisanship begins with mutual respect. Criticism of a public official is to be expected and not all criticism is demagoguery.

Now Lindsay isnít a big player on this issue but you know heís always game for compromise. If youíre a Democrat and you canít get Lindsay Graham to say something nice about you, well you may be beyond all hope.

The real key will be the Democrats in the House and how the speech plays with them. Considering how it obviously rallied the left, I canít imagine any Democrat who was opposed or leaning against the plan from the right is suddenly going to be swayed.

He rallied his base with this speech for a fight they probably canít win, while at the same time giving their opponents the back of his hand. Maybe he can turn that into a victory. Maybe Iíll get to hook up with Judy Greer. I just wouldnít bet on either. So itís not time to book ABBA but researching their availability might be a wise precaution.

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posted by DrewM. at 11:32 AM

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